Four of the leading competitors in the RISC and high performance computer market have announced their intention to establish a range of standard performance benchmarks for the measurement and characterisation of reduced instruction set computer systems. The four, Apollo Computer, Hewlett-Packard Co, MIPS Computer Systems and Sun Microsystems, contend that the emerging generation of advanced computer systems have broken with traditional design concepts and require a framework for the collection of consistent and meaningful data for evaluation in real world environments. Accordingly, the companies have formed a non-profitmaking organisation, dubbed the Systems Performance Evaluation Cooperative – SPEC for short – which is also being sponsored in an organisational capacity by Long Isalnd publisher CMP’s Santa Clara-based paper, the Electronic Engineering Times. The need for SPEC has arisen from the present battleground of benchmarking, in which companies are forced to defend their systems by presenting them in a more favourable light, according to EE Times editor Steve Weitzner. The EE Times Benchmark Suite will include public domain applications-based benchmark programs from the areas of electronic publishing, database management, Lisp, computer-aided software engineering and electronic computer-aided design, with others to follow in 1989. The group is expected to expand in the near future, and a meeting for prospective members is to be held in December. SPEC is also anticipating contributions from industry at large, including academic institutions and independent testing labs. The benchmark tests themselves are to be run on a single machine and the results reported with exact details of system configuration and cost.